If you want a lightweight vermin control rifle without any airs and graces, look no further than the Hatsan Escort, says Bruce Potts
For some years now, Hatsan has been known as a value-for-money Turkish shotgun manufacturer, but it is also starting to make its mark in the world of rifles.
This new Hatsan Escort .22LR rifle takes its name from the much-loved rugged semi-auto that so many wildfowlers and pest controllers have come to rely on.
It is a bolt-action .22LR with a five-shot detachable magazine system. Those who are familiar with the BRNO and CZ rimfires will find that it’s markedly similar.
It is available at present in three models: the Sporter with a walnut stock, the model with an adjustable stock, or with a nonadjustable synthetic stock, which is what I have on test. It comes as a complete package with gun case, scope, bipod and sling, and at £275 it’s one of the cheapest .22s on the market. It’s superbly compact, measuring 37.5in in length, and has an interesting muzzle brake attached which can be removed if needed. It is very lightweight at 5.4lb, making it an excellent rifle for quick shooting or for long evening walks in search of a few bunnies.
The synthetic stock is sleek and features an additional magazine compartment, which is incredibly useful feature for fast reloading. I anticipate that the market for this rifle will be extensive — ranging from newcomers looking for something to get them started off with to seasoned gamekeepers who like the idea of a cheap workhorse that they won’t feel too precious about when it’s sitting in the backseat of their truck.
Need to know
- Manufacturer: Hatsan Turkey
- Model: Escort
- Type: Bolt action
- Overall length: 37.5in (including muzzle brake)
- Barrel length: 18in
- Length of pull: 14.25in
- Weight: 5.4lb (rifle only)
- Finish: Matt blued
- Calibre: .22LR
- Stock: Black synthetic
- Magazine: 5-shot detachable, 10-shot option
- Sights: 11mm dovetails for scope mounts
- Trigger: Single stage, adjustable
- Price £345 outfit
- Importer Edgar Brothers 01625 613177
Hatsan Escort .22LR rifle in depth
The model on test has an 18in barrel made of nickel-chromium-molybdenum steel, which is chrome plated with a precision-rifled bore for accuracy.
The rifle profile is light Sporter and screw cut. The barrel also has a ½in UNF thread, plus a muzzle brake used as a thread protector. The barrel is not free-floated as a 1.5in barrel collar is secured to the fore- end via a stock screw, similar to the old BRNO rimfires.
The action is also very BRNO/CZ-looking, with the bolt removed by pulling the trigger-blade in and sliding bolt out. The bolt is 5.35in long, with a polished body and a 2.25in bolt handle with a 90° lift angle. The hollowed-out rounded bolt knob adds to the rifle’s lightweight design.
The bolt is non-rotating (locks at rear) and has twin large extractors. Ejection is via a spur sited in the action floor, which flings clear the empty case.
The single-stage trigger broke at 3.85lb, but has some creep before the final sear release, which is not very positive in use. However, it can be adjusted with the stock removed. A small nut under spring tension on the trigger-blade is adjusted anti-clockwise for a lighter pull and vice versa.
The safety catch is the older-style wing type, situated on the rear of the bolt, but it only functions as a bolt/sear lock when pushed forward. However, in the safe position, if the trigger is pulled, it releases the trigger sear. When the safety is taken off, it de-cocks the gun, so take note.
Magazines are five-shot — a 10-shot option is available — and very similar to a CZ. A spare five-shot is supplied and carried in the bottom rear of the stock and is released by a push button. This is a really neat idea that works well and keeps a spare readily to hand on lamping trips.
The stock is a hard-moulded black synthetic material that is pretty solid and lightweight yet strong.
It has moulded-in stippled panels to the fore-end and pistol grip for additional stability of hold. It comes with a rear hand shelf to support off a bench and houses the rear sling swivel. The front sling swivel is sited near the fore-end tip, with the addition of a small Weaver rail for the bipod attachment.
Fitted with the Optima 3-9x40mm scope, which is supplied as standard, we shot the Hatsan Escort on test with and without a sound moderator.
As with all new .22 rimfires, the bolt action ‘runs in’ after a few hundred rounds and becomes smoother to operate. Because it is primarily a hunting gun, we shot subsonic ammunition and some high velocity (HV) just in case.
The Eley Subsonic 38-gr loads achieved 1,041fps and 92ft/lb energy, with 0.65in 30yd groups and 0.95in at 50yd for five shots. Similarly, the Winchester 42-gr Max loads achieved 1,061fps and 105ft/lb, and 0.70in 30yd and just over 1in 50yd groups.
CCI Suppressor and RWS subsonics fared a little worse, oddly, as they are normally very good. The HV were all a bit erratic, except for the RWS 40-gr HV round, which shot 1,221fps and 132ft/lb, and 0.75in 50yd groups.
With it zeroed in at 50yd, we went after rabbits and some of the corvid population with the Eley subsonics. It was extremely hot, so early-morning bunnies were sunning themselves on the field margins.
Lightweight and easily carried, the Escort dropped some nice plump rabbits out to 60yd from the bipod — a bit wobbly — or in the shoulder.
As we left them to go to another field, they attracted four fox cubs, so we stayed and watched them. Then magpies started chattering and more corvids arrived, which were thinned out until they got wise and disappeared.
As a nice little package with all you need except a sound moderator, the Hatsan Escort .22LR rifle is a cheap rimfire that is designed to thin out vermin without any airs and graces. It doesn’t have much finesse but it offers great value for money.
- Accuracy: 17/20
- Handling: 16/20
- Trigger: 15/20
- Stock 16/20
- Value 17/20
The Hatsan Escort .22 rimfire is a cheap, accurate and lightweight vermin gun, which is ideally suited for pest contorl